Google Buzz Privacy Concerns Trigger Class Action Suit


Google Buzz has been named in a class action complaint filed in San Jose federal court, just over a week after Google hoisted its fledgling social networking platform on its Gmail using masses.

The class action suit alleges that Google broke the law when Google Buzz shared personal data without the consent of users, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The case was filed Wednesday on behalf of Eva Hibnick, a Florida woman, by law firms in San Francisco and Washington D.C.

The complaint alleges that Google and Google Buzz broke various electronic communications laws, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The plaintiff is seeking injunctions to prevent Google from taking similar actions in the future, and unspecified monetary relief, the Chronicle reported.

Google unveiled Buzz during a massive media event last week. Buzz takes elements from various popular social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Picasa and others and creates a platform within users' Gmail accounts and on their mobile devices via mobile applications and the Web. Google Buzz lets users share status updates, videos, photos, links and other content.

Buzz was met with a critical eye as early users weighed in with a host of privacy and security concerns, mostly revolving around the auto-follow feature, which automatically lets users' email and chat contacts follow them and vice versa, while also showing other followers who their friends are; and the location-based data that can be used to pinpoint a users' exact location if not turned off.

Google, in a series of blog posts, has said that it is working to address users' concerns around Google Buzz.

Hibnick is seeking to bring the class action suit on behalf of all Gmail users whose accounts were automatically linked to Buzz. According to the Chronicle, the filing indicates there were 31.2 million Gmail users in January and Google "added the Buzz program to most or all of these accounts."

Hibnick is not the only one taking action against Google Buzz. Earlier this week the Electronic Privacy Information Center field a complaint with the FTC arguing that Google Buzz should be an opt in service, not one potential users have to opt out of.

Google has not commented on the class action suit.